Open Invitation (Amistad Sunday) Isaiah 55:1-9

Isaiah offers in nine verses the heart of the biblical message:  God loves us, no matter what, reaching out to us even (or especially) in the worst of times, making promises that are not pie-in-the-sky, not theoretical. God promises what we most deeply yearn for:  homecoming when we’re lost, a rich feast when we’re hungry, fresh water to satisfy our thirst, and a community of hope when we long for meaning–something greater than ourselves through which we might be a blessing to the world. There’s no price of admission to this feast, and everyone (even the most unexpected) will be invited to the party.

A Litany for Amistad Sunday (based on Isaiah 43)

The 1839 slave revolt aboard the Amistad brought Congregationalists from New England together to defend the rights of these slaves to their freedom. That defense finally came before the U.S. Supreme Court. When it was finished, the slaves were freed and the American Missionary Society (a forerunner of the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries) was formed.

One:        In the hold of the ship, the Amistad, the slaves were chained and rowed together.

MANY:    But God made a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters.

One:         Chains were broken, slaves revolted, but God said, “Do not remember the old                          ways.  I am about to do a  new thing.”

MANY:     The slaves were recaptured, prisoners again, but no alone. A committee was                             formed to support and defend.  Advocates, lawyers, ministers and more. People                     of faith brought clothing and money and food.

One:          Now it springs forth; do you see it?

MANY:      Before the court, the Supreme Court, justice, this time, prevailed.

One:           “I will make a way through the wilderness,” said the God of the slaves.

MANY:       And the slaves were acquitted.  All were set free.

One:            God gave water and rivers in the desert so the thirsty could drink.

MANY:        The slaves went home but their friends persisted.

One:              For abolition, for education, for liberty, The American Missionary Society was                         born, and continues today as part of the United Church of Christ.

MANY:         So says God, “These are the people whom I formed for myself so they might                            declare my praise.”

One:             Let us worship our God, a God of freedom and justice.  Oh God of the Amistad,

MANY:        Give hope to our prayers and make true our hope that liberty and equality                                and fairness bless this land.

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More Than You Can Imagine…

We sometimes think that “imagination” means something escapist or illusory. Yet, imagination is not something unreal or fake.  It is essential to God’s hope for creation.  “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine…” (Ephesians 3:20-21).  God imagines a world where all are safe, all are loved, and all are fed.

When we use our imaginations in the way that God does, we can begin to envision–and work for! –a world…

where no child goes unfed, un-housed, or unloved; where no one ever fears abuse or           violence; where clean water is not a dream but a reality for all; where small farmers do their work with dignity and are paid a fair wage for their labors; where agricultural practices enrich and renew the land rather than deplete; where survivors of natural disasters have the resources they need, now and for years to come; where vulnerable immigrants are welcomed in Christ’s name.

Can you imagine these things?  Through your gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing what we can imagine becomes ever more a reality for more and more people.

(quoted from the brochure, More than we can imagine)


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One Great Hour of Sharing Offering

On Sunday, March 31, a special offering will be collected for One Great Hour of Sharing.  Envelopes for the special offering will be placed in the March 24 bulletins.

One Great Hour of Sharing, as part of Our Churches Wider Mission, is the special mission offering of the United Church of Christ that carries God’s message of love and hope to people in crisis.  The UCC works with international partners to provide sources of clean water, food, education and health care, small business micro-credit, advocacy and resettlement for refugees and displaced persons, and emergency relief and rehabilitation. One Great Hour of Sharing also supports domestic and international ministries for disaster preparedness and response.

Through One Great Hour of Sharing, lives are literally changed daily. Your support provides clean water, food, medicines, shelter, healthcare, education and so much more. In 2017, the OGHS offering received over $2 million. Nearly sixty-five percent of UCC congregations participate annually.

On March 31, members and friends of the United Church of Christ will have the opportunity to respond to all of these needs through One Great Hour of Sharing. Let’s all give generously.

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Shoes That Grow

There are many children in the third-world, economically disadvantaged areas that have no shoes.  Through a project called “Shoes That Grow,” St. John’s would like to help children have shoes–perhaps for the first time ever!  The shoes are adjustable and “grow” as the child grows.  A sample of the shoes can be found on the table at the front of the sanctuary.

There are boxes for you to take to hold your loose change from each day, or you can place money in the container provided.  Each pair of shows costs $15.00.  How many pairs of shoes can we purchase?  Make this monetary donation the “thing” you have given up for Lent.  how about one candy bar a day, or a soda, or instead of eating out one evening, that money is donated to the shoe fund?  Let us all share in this project for Lent.

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Lenten Observances

Beginning on Wednesday, March 13, and continuing for the next four weeks after that, a light meal and short devotion will be held at Emmanuel UCC with our Presbyterian friends also being invited. The entire experience will last no longer than one hour, and will begin at 6 p.m.

A joint Maundy Thursday service, with Emmanuel UCC and Bluffton Presbyterian, takes place on Thursday, April 18, at 7 p.m.  The traditional Tenebrae service includes Holy Communion and will be held at St. John’s UCC.  All are welcome to attend.

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This Week at St. John’s UCC

Centering Words for March 24:  Not all food nourishes us; not all drinks quench our thirst. Isaiah reminds the people not to waste their resources on the things that do not satisfy. God knows your thirst, and God senses your hunger. Come, eat, and drink.  A rich feast awaits you. We are filled when we listen for the voice of God and when we cling to God with our whole being.

Sunday, March 24–Worship 10:30 a.m.; Pastor Carol’s meditation is titled “RSVP!”, and is based on Isaiah 55:1-9.  A coffee hour in Oppermann Hall follows the worship service.  All are welcome to attend.

Tuesday, March 26–Ladies meet at LuLu’s, 9 a.m.; Our Daily Bread, 10:30 a.m.; TOPS, 6 p.m.

Wednesday, March 27–Men meet at Arby’s, 8:30 a.m.; Lenten midweek service, 6 p.m., at Emmanuel UCC; Choir practice, 7:15 p.m.

Sunday, March 31–Consistory meets after worship


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Our Daily Bread Soup Kitchen

If you would like to volunteer for helping serve at Our Daily Bread soup kitchen in Lima on Tuesday,  March 26, 2019,  please sign up on the bulletin board in the sanctuary.  Helpers are always welcome.

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Facebook Page

You are missing out on a super way to advertise our church if you are not sharing with many of your other Facebook friends St. John’s Facebook page.  There are many interesting articles posted every day.  “Friend” all of your friends and ask them to “Like” the St. John’s page–let’s let people know we are here, alive, and moving forward!

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St Johns Snow

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This website can now be found at!

In an effort to make this site easier for you to access, it can now be found at!  You can still find this page using the old web address, but now it will be easier to tell family and friends where they can find up-to-date news about St. John’s UCC in Bluffton, Ohio.

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